Is the JCPOA Working?
By Yigal Carmon and A. Savyon
October 30, 2017
All JCPOA supporters rely on the
claim that "the agreement is working" and on the eight confirmations
granted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Iran that it is
in compliance with the agreement .
Reality, however, invalidates this
claim, on four levels:
a. Violations of the agreement in
letter, not just "in spirit," in issues that are critical, not
b. Developments on the ground
that contradict the aim of the agreement.
c. The lack of real inspection,
making the IAEA's confirmation misleading.
d. The IAEA's role in this
deliberate misrepresentation that real inspection is carried out and that Iran
is abiding by the agreement.
This paper will present evidence
that the agreement is not working.
A. Violations Of The JCPOA
1. Section T – Iran is refusing to allow IAEA
inspectors to monitor activities under Section T of the agreement, which
prohibits Iran from carrying out "activities which could contribute to the
development of a nuclear explosive device."
Section T of the
JCPOA prohibits Iran from "designing, developing, fabricating,
acquiring, or using multi-point explosive detonation systems suitable for a
nuclear explosive device" and also from "designing, developing,
fabricating, acquiring, or using explosive diagnostic systems (streak cameras,
framing cameras and flash x-ray cameras)" – unless these activities are
"approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes" and
"subject to monitoring."
Hence, in the
most critical area of the nuclear agreement – developing options for
detonating a nuclear explosive device – Iran is refusing to allow monitoring
of its activity, as the agreement requires.
advanced centrifuges – Iran is building (IR-8) and operating (IR-6) larger numbers of
advanced centrifuges than is allowed by the agreement.
3. Heavy Water
– Iran's actual heavy water quota exceeds the quantity
permitted it by the agreement, since according to standard IAEA verification
practices, changes in heavy water inventory are registered not when the heavy
water is removed from the territory of the country exporting it, but only when
it arrives at the destination country that purchased it. For Iran, however, the
calculation of the quantity of heavy water that it is allowed to possess does
not include the quantity that is being stored for it in Oman and not being sold
– while at the same time Iran is continuing to produce more heavy water.
4. The core of
the plutonium reactor at Arak – According to Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy
Organization Of Iran (AEOI) and a member of Iran's nuclear negotiating team,
Iran never dismantled the core of the plutonium reactor at Arak, but left it
intact, saying that Iran needed it for research purposes. He also said that
only the external pipelines of the reactor had been filled with cement, and that
it would not take very long for Iran to reactivate it. According
to the Institute for Science and International Security (IISS), Iran has also
tried to make changes to
the fuel design for the modified Arak reactor, that differ from what the
5. Production of
uranium enriched to 5% – Iran is continuing to produce uranium enriched to 5% beyond
the quantity permitted it. Two such violations have been recorded by the IAEA.
Iran has exported the surplus for storage in Oman, in a procedure that does not
exist in the agreement and is not allowed.
B. Developments On The Ground
That Contradict The Aim Of The JCPOA
1. The 8.5
tons of enriched uranium shipped out from Iran according to the JCPOA are
not being monitored by the IAEA,and in fact the shipment
disappeared in Russia, as attested to by the Obama administration's State
Department lead coordinator on Iran, Stephen Mull, at a House Foreign Affairs
Committee hearing in February 2016. (Theoretically, however, since the uranium's
location is not known, the possibility that Russia, Iran's ally, has returned it
to Iran should not be discounted.)
2. Oman, a
political satellite of Iran that has no capability for confronting Iran, has
become the warehouse for Iran's surplus heavy water and enriched uranium. The
storage of this material in Oman is nothing more than a fiction aimed at
covering up the fact that Iran is exceeding the amount of uranium and heavy
water allowed it in the JCPOA.
C. Lack Of Real Inspection,
Making IAEA Confirmation Misleading
The IAEA cannot
conduct real inspections in Iran, and therefore its confirmation that Iran is
complying with the JCPOA is misleading, for the following reasons:
1. The inspection
that the IAEA is permitted to conduct, and through which Iran receives
confirmation that it is meeting the terms of the agreement, is carried out
solely in the limited areas where Iran allows inspection – that is, the sites
that it itself has declared to be nuclear sites. No other site in Iran,
including military sites, are included. Furthermore, with regard to the
military sites, Iranian officials have stressed that the IAEA will never be
allowed to enter them.
2. The agreement
has created a unique inspection framework for Iran that is less stringent than
that for the other Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) member countries. For
example, Iran has been allowed to accept the Additional Protocol voluntarily –
that is, it was not mandatory as it was for the others – meaning that it can
drop out of the Additional Protocol at any time (for instance, when it is
required to allow inspection of military sites) without being considered in
violation of the JCPOA. That is, Iran can prevent inspection of its military
sites, both under the JCPOA and because it is not bound by the Additional
3. The agreement
has created a supreme political forum – the Joint Committee of the JCPOA –
in order to bypass the IAEA and its decisions. The Joint Committee is
authorized to overrule the IAEA's statutory professional authority.
D. The IAEA's Role In The
Misrepresentation Of Iran's Compliance And Of The Inspection Process
1. The IAEA does not declare Iran's
rejection of inspections, according to Section T, a violation of the JCPOA, but
rather calls for handing the issue over for discussion to the political body –
the Joint Committee.
2. The IAEA carried out a scandalous
inspection at the Parchin military site, that was aimed at closing Iran's
Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) file in accordance with a predetermined
political decision. IAEA inspectors did not themselves visit Parchin, and the
samples from these sites were taken by the Iranians themselves and handed over
to the IAEA inspectors without any way of ascertaining that the samples taken
were the ones handed over to the IAEA. Furthermore, IAEA director-general Yukiya
Amano was allowed entrance to Parchin for only a few minutes, and he was not
permitted to bring in any equipment, not even his cellphone. Through
this process, the IAEA even agreed not to question nuclear scientists, as it had
demanded to do over the years.
IAEA is refusing to wield its authority by initiating inspections of military
sites, as sanctioned by both the Additional Protocol and U.N. Security Council
Resolution 2231, and despite statements by IAEA secretary-general Amano that he
has the authority to do this.
IAEA is acting vis-à-vis Iran in violation of its own export control system, to
which exporters of heavy water such as Canada and India are subject.